UKC was at the massive winter gear tradeshow ISPO Munich, getting sneak previews of kit in the pipeline for autumn/winter 2013/14. Also see this news item: ISPO Outdoor Product Award Winners 2013 and this one: ISPO 2013 Report: Mountain Clothing News.
Most outdoor gear companies save their main launches for the summer gear tradeshow, OutDoor, but there were a few interesting new bits of kit to see. Here follows a selection.
Below Christian Lehhman from Black Diamond talks us through the ISPO Award-winning Carbon Compactor Ski Pole, featuring their 'Z-Technology' - it's a ski mountaineering pole that folds away neatly like an avalanche probe.
In other news, the new BD Camalot x4s arrive in shops in the UK in April. These are mini camming units, and BD have worked hard to design a double axle that is small enough for micro cams. Check out the video on this page, these look set to be very popular. They will be £64.99 each.
In this video, David Noddings takes a look at the new range of DMM chalk and rope bags, plus a couple of new harnesses.
Camp have a new simple and lightweight all-rounder harness this Spring, called the Jasper CR3 Light (£55 / 351g). It has a sliding, contoured waist belt filled with lightweight 3mm EVA foam padding, a patented 'No-Twist' belay loop and 'Flat-Link' elastic straps. What else? Four webbing reinforced gear loops and chalk bag loop, plus Hypalon slots for ice clippers.
The Camp Blade Runner Crampons launch next winter. Priced at £250 and weighing in at 1015g, these are very versatile technical ice crampons with some interesting innovative features. A patented 'heel slide' basically means the linking bar is attached to the heel piece for better torsional rigidity. This heel slide is constructed from 'Sandvik Nanoflex' steel: an amazingly strong and tough stainless steel that allows for a reduction in the thickness of the frame from 2.75mm to 1.8mm, thereby reducing weight, while simultaneously increasing strength and providing a good amount of flexibility for a precise fit on modern boots with more extreme rockers. The front platform, meanwhile, is made from from traditional chromoly steel alloy to absorb impact energy and maintain solid rigidity under foot.
You can switch the front points between dual and mono, centred or offset using a simple hook and notch system on the rear contact point. The optional snow points have a bevelled design and precise shape and spacing to maximises purchase in ice and hard snow. Optional semi-automatic toe bails also allow the Blade Runner to be used on boots without rigid toe lugs – a great feature for alpine climbing where bulky toe lugs can reduces sensitivity and performance on rock. Anti-balling plates included, comes in two sizes: Size 1 – 37 to 46; Size 2 – 40 to 49.
Edelrid cleaned up in the Climbing Gear category of the ISPO awards, winning all the awards, including the 'Outdoor Product of the Year' for the Snipe rope. See this news item: ISPO Outdoor Product Award Winners 2013.
Also check out Edelrid's technical Shark Crampons, made from high-grade steel with a powder coating, and designed for steep ice, winter mountaineering and expedition use. They are supplied with soft, semi and automatic bindings so they fit B1-B3 boots, and have a quick and easy bridge adjustment, which fits a wide range of foot sizes, even really big ones (34 to 48 European). Anti-bot plates are included, they weigh in at 880g and will be available from October this year for £150.
Petzl introduced their innovative 'Reactive Lighting Technology' last year in the Nao Headtorch. See this review. This year they have a new headtorch with Reactive Lighting - a compact one - the Tikka RXP, and it won an ISPO Award. It includes rechargeable Lithium-Ion batteries and, I was pleased to see, a regular stretchy headband rather than a drawstring as on the Nao.
Petzl have also completely redesigned and re-launched the 'Laser' range of ice screws. There are now three models, all with a new drill bit designed to bite quicker and more effectively, a new rounded thread shape and a patented sharpening reserve, designed to maintain the correct biting angle through many sharpenings. The Laser hangers have also been redesigned to give better handling and screwing speed and will now take two carabiners. The basic Laser (£38-£40) features a strong and durable steel tube, treated to reduce weight and increase strength. It's 18% lighter than the previous version and available in 13, 17 and 21cm lengths. The new Laser Speed are 21% lighter than the previous Laser Sonic ice screws and cost £47-£50. They feature an integrated crank, making them faster to operate, and are designed to be easier to work with in narrow spaces or sculpted ice. They are colour coded for easy identification and available in 10, 13, 17 and 21cm. The New Laser Speed Light screws (£53-£55) have an ultra-light design featuring an anodised aluminium tube with a steel drill tip. These are really light - 30% lighter than the Laser Speed, and feature the same integrated crank and colour coding system. Available in 13, 17 and 21cm lengths.
Weights in size 17cm:
Laser Speed: 143g
Laser Speed Light: 100g
Scarpa have a new, Velcro 'Instinct VS' model available from this Spring, featuring the classic Instinct toe shape and a Lorica upper. The 'VS' stands for Velcro Strap, in case you're wondering. The sole rubber is Vibram XS Edge, and Glyn Pagett from UK distributors Mountain Boot Company described the new shape moulded heel as a 'thing of beauty'. It has a heel retention strap - basically a tensioning band, which runs from the heel through the instep, plus a big wedge of rubber over the toe. Apparently it's proved popular - the Climbing Works reordered all the small sizes very quickly suggesting it's been a hit with Sheffield's female climbers. It comes in half sizes from 35 to 45 and will cost £119.99.
Salewa will be available in the UK from this year. We were shown their top end approach shoe, which features a welded construction (no sewing) and a lightweight new anatomical last. We were also shown their new Vertical Pro Guide, which is their latest top end (but not high altitude) mountaineering boot. It has a unique 'Flex' system with a walk/climb mode. Essentially you use a key to tighten a metal plate running the length of the sole to make them stiff enough for crampons, or supple enough to walk in. These models won't be available in the UK to start with, as they are the tip of an extensive footwear range iceberg, but they do exemplify that this is an innovative and interesting brand worth checking out.
The best selling rather than top end footwear will be available in the UK to start with: Firetail and Mountain Trainer approach shoes, Mountain Trainer mid 3-season boots and Raven Combi, Blackbird and original Pro guide mountaineering boots. Salewa have gone from zero to a successful range of approach, hiking and mountaineering boots over the past seven years and are similar in size of business to Scarpa and Sportiva, due in part to the footwear development centre they have in Montebeluna in Italy. The fit is very sympathetic to the UK (not the classic skinny European fit) and there's a choice of two width fittings. Plus all Salewa footwear comes with a 100% blister free guarantee.
Soto's Muka non-priming, instant flame generating liquid stove won an ISPO Award. The Muka uses unleaded fuel, which makes it economical and, thanks to the 'Dual Groove Drum System (DGDS)', it is apparently faster and cleaner than any of its competitors.
Steripen's Ultra Portable UV Water Proofer also won an ISPO Award. Compact, lightweight and easy-to-use, this pen makes water safe to drink using ultraviolet light. It eliminates >99.9% of viruses, bacteria and protozoa and is reusable for up to 8,000 litres, reducing the need for disposable plastic water bottles. Steripen say: "A high-contrast OLED screen provides the user with real-time feedback; USB recharging reduces battery waste. The Steripen allows athletes to carry less and to perform better by treating their drinking water faster, thus staying healthy and hydrated and in the zone."